Field a single candidate quicklyWith independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo’s announcement in Gwangju yesterday, the December presidential election will likely be held between the Saenuri Party candidate, Park Geun-hye, and one from the liberal camp, whether it be Ahn or Moon Jae-in, the Democratic United Party candidate.
Clearing up suspicions over his cryptic attitude - exemplified by his lack of a clear stance on the issue of fielding a single candidate representing the anti-Park camp - Ahn unequivocally stressed the need to merge his candidacy with Moon’s and proposed a meeting to “share each other’s values and philosophies and reach an agreement on political reform.” Moon gladly accepted the meeting proposal.
For Ahn, the proposal must have been an unavoidable choice given all the backlash against not only his opaque vision of what he calls “new politics,” but also a critical lack of a transparent action plan for consolidating their candidacies. With Ahn’s long-awaited decision, the liberal camp’s candidacy consolidation machine is reactivating since its first arrival in the 1997 presidential election. Now, Moon and Ahn must come up with a final decision as soon as possible. The discussion on the issue of the merger has been seen as a monster that gobbles up all other important agendas, such as candidates’ presidential integrity, platforms, national strategies and televised debates. However, we are convinced that a reckless pursuit of victory based on political engineering to eke out a numerical win must not be allowed in Korea’s presidential election because it would no doubt exacerbate the public’s mistrust of the political culture here. Therefore, both Moon and Ahn must first normalize their campaigns by quickly determining a single candidate rather than waiting until Nov. 25, the deadline for official registration of presidential candidates.
One of the biggest problems with the candidacy merger is that millions of supporters for a particular candidate are disheartened by the sudden disappearance of a favorite candidate. That’s why Moon and Ahn must make public what philosophies and values they are going to blend before picking one candidate.
Both also must announce how they would distribute cabinet posts in a joint government if they take power. In the case of the 2002 presidential election when Roh Moo-hyun and Chung Mong-joon came to an agreement on merging their candidacies, they didn’t make public what was discussed between them.
Voters are entitled to know all about the candidates in the new two-way race.